President Michael D Higgins is to begin a 12-day visit to Latin America, which will include official engagements in Peru, Colombia and Cuba.

It will be the first visit by an Irish President in office to each of the three countries at the invitation of their heads of state.

The visit will begin with an official ceremony at the tomb of Ambrosio O'Higgins, a native of Sligo, who became one of the last viceroys of Peru and whose son Bernardo O'Higgins became supreme director of Chile.

President Higgins will also deliver an address on the humanitarian vision of the Easter Rising leader Roger Casement.

In Colombia, the President will meet President Juan Manuel Santos and leaders of the country's rebel movement FARC before travelling to Havana to begin the first State visit to Cuba by an Irish President.

A spokesman said that the visit will, in addition to celebrating the deep historic connections between Ireland and Latin America, boost political, cultural and economic ties with the region.

President Higgins will arrive back in Dublin on 19 February.